Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Mark Wignall | Independence forged in infamy Independence forged in infamy

Published:Sunday | May 14, 2023 | 12:52 AM
In this 1962 photo, guests in the main stand at the National Stadium rise at midnight in salute to the Jamaica National Flag as it is raised during the ceremonies making Jamaica’s Independence. At right centre Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon.

‘Jamaica Yes, Federation NO’ was the political slogan I remembered in 1961 in the elections to decide whether we should pursue federation with other Caribbean countries or go, on our own, headlong into Independence.

I knew little about what was taking place and cared even less about it, whatever it was. Why should I. I was 11 years old and mainly interested in two thingss a: girls and reading. The reading I understood. The girls was pure puzzlement.

Years later as a young adult, it dawned on me that Bustamante and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had pulled a con-job on us. The hard binary choice between Jamaica and the Federation was a most wily public-relations deception on a people who were far from being skilled in figuring out when our political idols were playing games with our heads.

I have always suffered from the pain of not readily admiring Bustamante, one of our loved national heroes. I found it terribly contradictory that a man who was supposed to be a most caring man towards the poor and powerless in the nation was, in his prime and time, a usurer, a man who loaned money at extortionate rates.

Many years later, Jamaica is in the departure lounge in flying off into transforming our country into a republic. It has not yet been established that making that move will mean that the most dispossessed in our nation will have a better chance at empowering themselves and a bigger shot at the economic lottery.

The men and women making up the political parties who are expected to either bring us into closer knowledge of the factors involved or force us into a corner again have not openly and consistently demonstrated that they have moved far beyond the ‘dunce’ times of the early 1960s.

Like many of us, I made a most unpleasant glance and spent too much time bringing my focus to bear on the circus of demonstrating to the world how foolish we are in clutching on to leadership relationships that should best be declared dead instead of the puffery of another consecration.


I speak of the prince being made into a king as Charles III. I gazed at him as he sat on his throne. He had at one side a sceptre and at the other side an orb. What did those things signify, outside of trying to blind the common man and forcing him more deeply into his idiotic superstitions? The part of his get-up that made me laugh was him in his coach covered at the top by a blanket of the same design that I used to cover my daughter when she was a baby and the night was chilly.

I would be surprised if, as an adult, I did not detest the monarchy. I do. Strangely enough, I had a soft spot for the lady who told us that she was Queen Elizabeth but couldn’t quite understand why so many of our poorest people came dangerously close to worshipping her.


One would have thought that with the political side of the JLP failing to live up to its loud successes at the infrastructural and fiscal levels and its dip and fall giving the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) a reason to believe its electoral life had validity, all the PNP needed to do was play the decency game. Even if many in the less senior levels of the party did not get the memo.

In an ideal world, most politicians would begin their public lives as philosophers. Slowly but surely they would find pleasure in getting their hands dirty as they moved among the man at street level and learned how to shovel dirt and feel the pain as they led us out of our social and economic nightmares.

The reality is a bit different. Way different. First, they must know how to be nasty to those who they believe are purely the dung beetles following them as they flash and fly over bowls of swill close to the mud pile.

Let’s look at a play that took place recently in South East St Catherine. In the opposition PNP.

Dr Alfred Dawes is a man worth significantly more than his weight in gold. I say this without having any hard evidence that he is in fact that expensive, I have never met him. I have interviewed him on radio in his official capacity as a medical official in service to the Government of Jamaica. More than once. At all times he came across as a most competent professional. So I am judging him on that alone.

Most recently, he was selected to be the PNP’s representative in that constituency. What has been the response? Let’s hear from the man himself. According to The Observer.


Dawes added that individuals have called him and threatened him and his family, telling him his house is next, after the PNP constituency office was damaged by fire on Thursday night. But Dawes said he will not back down. He says the thugs have been enabled by those in the PNP who they support.

“When you cross that line of threatening my family, all gloves are off, and in deference to unity, I thought about being silent about the matter, however, I am going to make this clear: I am going nowhere. I have been selected fair and square based on the party’s internal polls.”

I have asked this question many times. But first, the caveat, somewhat settled by Dr Dawes that he is not running away. The question is, what is it about political office that so inspires those in the dark corners to chase after it with dangerous abandon?

Are there some in the PNP saying to themselves and their cronies stuff like, ‘Di bwoi Dawes belly full. Whey him nuh go bout him business an mek we eat some food?’

Of late, both of our political parties, in baring their worst sides, have been in competition to see which can be the most disgusting. But the PNP puzzles me the most. More on that in another column.


- Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.